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Walker Buehler finds normalcy in spring debut

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Dodgers and Giants tied 1-1 in 7 innings from Scottsdale.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Walker Buehler needed only 24 pitches to complete two scoreless innings in his 2021 spring training debut on Tuesday against the Giants in Scottsdale. Buehler, who allowed one hit and struck out one, seemed just happy with the routine.

“Obviously, my past spring trainings have been a little different than then we kind of would have liked to draw them up,” Buehler said on a Zoom call after his outing. “So we’re just trying to stay on kind of a traditional schedule, and go from there.”

Buehler only pitched in three Cactus League games in 2018-19 combined, then last year after the four-month shut down Buehler had a slow ramp up during summer camp after not throwing much in the interim. That led to a later start to his regular season and shorter starts in his first few outings.

This offseason, Buehler threw more often in preparation for a season that figures to see a sizable increase over the 61⅔ innings he threw in the 2020 regular season and postseason combined.

“Walker is very aware of his body, and how it responds to either rest or continuing to ramp things up. We learned in the past to go idle and dormant is maybe not the best thing for Walker,” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. “We feel good where he’s at right now, after throwing all throughout the winter.”

Highlights

Dustin May followed with two scoreless innings of his own, following up triple-digit fastballs with this wrinkle to get Marco Luciano.

James Outman doubled home the tying run in the seventh inning, and made two stellar defensive plays in center field earlier in the game.

Notes

  • Julio Urías will start Wednesday night for the Dodgers in Goodyear against the Reds, and is expected to pitch two innings.
  • Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, and is next step is yet to be determined, either facing hitters on a back field or pitching in a Cactus League game on Friday.
  • Joe Kelly, who was sidelined with an undisclosed injury, threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. Roberts estimated it would be six or seven days before Kelly faces hitters.
  • Ryan Noda made his Dodgers debut in Tuesday’s game, striking out in his only at-bat and playing the final four innings in right field. Roberts said Noda, who was acquired from the Blue Jays on February 23 to complete the Ross Stripling trade, will play both corner outfield spots and some first base this spring. Noda, who turns 25 two days before opening day, was a 15th-round draft pick in 2017 by Toronto, and hit .272/.422/.478 in three minor league seasons, though he has yet to play above Class-A.